A proposed constitutional amendment would require Nevada teachers to instruct students that there are many questions about evolution - a method viewed by critics as an opening to teach intelligent design.
Las Vegas masonry contractor Steve Brown filed his initiative
petition with the secretary of state's office, and must collect
83,184 signatures by June 20 to get the plan on the November
ballot. To amend the Nevada Constitution, he'd have to win voter
approval this year and again in the 2008 elections.
Brown said Tuesday that he hopes that volunteers will help him
collect the signatures, but at this point has no name-gathering
organization set up. A Democrat and member of a nondenominational
church, he said he hoped for broad support from people who share
"I just want them to start telling the truth about evolution,"
Brown said. "Evolution has occurred, but parts of it are flat-out
unproven theories. They're not telling students that in school."
Brown, who has three school-age children, said he's been
interested in evolution for years. He added that if people take
time to read his proposal "how can this not pass?"
The petition says students must be informed before the end of
the 10th grade that "although most scientists agree that Darwin's
theory of evolution is well supported, a small minority of
scientists do not agree."
The plan says several "areas of disagreement" would have to be
covered by teachers, including the view by some scientists that
"it is mathematically impossible for the first cell to have
evolved by itself."
Students also would have to be told some scientists argue "that
nowhere in the fossil record is there an indisputable skeleton of a
transitional species, or a 'missing link,"' the proposal says.
Also, the proposal says students "must be informed that the
origin of sex, or sex drive, is one of biology's mysteries" and
that some scientists contend that sexual reproduction "would
require an unbelievable series of chance events that would have had
to occur in the evolutionary theory."
Brown commented on his plan following a decision Monday by the
Utah House to scuttle a bill that would have required public school
students to be told that evolution isn't empirically proven.
Last month, the Ohio Board of Education deleted a science
standard and lesson plan encouraging students to seek evidence for
and against evolution - another setback for intelligent design
advocates who maintain that life is so complex it must have been
created by a higher authority.
In December, a federal judge barred the school system in Dover,
Pa., from teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in high
school biology classes. The judge said that intelligent design is
religion masquerading as science.
Also last year, a federal judge ordered the school system in
suburban Atlanta's Cobb County to remove from biology textbooks
stickers that called evolution a theory, not a fact.
But critics of evolution got a boost in Kansas in November when
the state Board of Education adopted new science teaching standards
that treat evolution as a flawed theory.